“The 3-4 weeks before my husband Seth returned home from deployment were some of the most stressful, trying days of 2020 for me.
I exclusively breastfed my son Bret and he didn’t wean until he was about 20 months old. And although breastfeeding isn’t ‘easy’ no matter what, I never ran into any major hurdles and overall had a pretty seamless experience.
That was the case with my daughter Stella as well, until a little over a month ago when I noticed a decrease in my supply. Stella was nursing very often but was having very few wet diapers, and I could tell she was losing weight.
I was eating healthy, drinking enough water, taking nutrient-dense supplementation, working out, and doing all the things I did with Bret, however, the only thing I can think of that is markedly different this go-round has been my level of stress, worry, and anxiety surrounding my personal circumstances as well as the world in general.
Stress and anxiety can play a huge factor in your milk supply. The adrenaline released by your body when you are in a state of stress can inhibit oxytocin which is the hormone that causes your milk to let down.
I panicked and tried all the things. I ate more calories, ordered breastmilk support supplements, latched Stella what felt like a million times a day, then pumped after that, while also diving headfirst into a freaking wormhole of information about formula in the event I had to go that route. Navigating figuring out how much she was getting while nursing then how much to supplement with my freezer stash.
This is all while taking care of a very energetic, rambunctious toddler at the same time.
Even though I never judge moms for their choices to feed their babies however they want to, I still let the guilt of not being able to give my baby what I felt was best suffocate me.
The pressure of working tirelessly to improve my supply while also managing life was exhausting and taking a toll on me mentally.
Another thing no one tells you when your baby stops nursing suddenly is your oxytocin levels bottom out and you can experience post-weaning depression and anxiety. Yes, it’s a thing. And I had no idea about it until it happened, and I was like WTF is wrong with me?!!!
I managed to find a formula I felt comfortable with and if you know me, you know that was no short order. Hours and hours of research and comparing, but thankfully she is thriving on it and has had NO ISSUES.
Anyway, long story short, ‘fed is best’ is a belief I’ve stood behind. I believe all mamas should feel empowered to make whatever choices they feel is in the best interest of themselves and their little ones.
But beliefs are a funny thing. Just because you think a certain belief is in alignment with your values, it isn’t until you have to put action behind those beliefs that it can challenge your credence.
It took a few weeks, but I am at peace with how everything turned out. Stella is strong, happy, healthy, and thriving and I can now CONFIDENTLY say, ‘Fed is best.’”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sheena Phelps of Norfolk, Virgina. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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